icon Author: VeVee
Ark Survival Ascended Review

Platform: PC, Xbox, Playstation

Developers: Studio Wildcard, Grove Street Games

Ark Survival has evolved into the next generation of gaming with Unreal Engine 5. So gear up and get ready to run for your dear life!

What Does Ark Survival Ascended Entail?

Ark Survival Ascended is the upgraded version of Ark Survival Evolved. The game has been recreated and redesigned from the ground up into the next generation of video game technology. With high-end graphics features such as fully dynamic Global Illumination, light bounces realistically off surfaces. It provides realistic reflections and advanced mesh streaming of hundreds of millions of triangles for extreme detail. 

There is also a new physics system, such as dynamic water, so that when you or your dinos walk through water, it creates waves, ripples, splashes and bubbles. As well as, foliage will rustle as you stealthy sneak through it. Trees and rocks will come crashing down when you hack away at them. Even demolishing buildings will break apart realistically. 

Not only have graphics been revamped, but other quality-of-life changes have also been made, such as a redesign of the user interfaces, tracking system, wild babies, map system, new structures, items and creatures, cross-platform modding and much more.

Form a tribe, tame, train, breed, and ride dinosaurs in a dynamic ecosystem. Keep a close eye on your food, water, temperature, and weather conditions. Gradually expand your territory by harvesting resources, constructing buildings, farming crops, and customising your visual designs. As you venture further out, you will uncover the true nature of The Island and the other worlds beyond.

What is Gameplay Like?

When you start playing Ark Survival Evolved, you can play either in single-player mode or on a multiplayer server, which can be official, unofficial or non-dedicated. After selecting your preferred mode, you will be directed to the character creation menu. If you have played Ark Survival Evolved before, you will notice a significant improvement in the customisation options available for your character. You can now create a more unique character, which allows for more individuality among other players, as everyone won't look the same.

After creating your character in the game, you must select the area where you want to spawn. You will have three options to choose from - easy, medium, or hard areas. Starting in an easy area is recommended, even though you will still face aggressive dinosaurs. These creatures, even the smaller ones, can do severe damage. Once you have spawned, you can do whatever you want in the game. There is no tutorial; you have to learn as you go along, making the game more challenging than it already is when first starting. It can be daunting for a new player to figure out the controls. It's not bad if you are playing with experienced players, as they can guide you, but if you are on your own, you'll have to push buttons and hope for the best until you get the hang of it. 

One of the first things you'll want to do is get food and be near a water source. There are multiple ways of gathering food, whether by picking up plants by hand or killing dinosaurs for meat. These are some ways to help you level, where you can boost your stats and unlock engrams for crafting and building things needed within the game.

I love building bases in games, especially when it's done well. Ascended allows for creative freedom, and I've seen some fantastic base builds on official servers. One improvement over Evolved is the option to bulk-build items together. For instance, you only need to create a wall, and then you can choose whether you want a solid wall, a doorframe, a window, or a secret door. It makes the crafting section tidier, and you can even folder the crafting section to stay organized as you unlock more engrams at higher levels. However, I wish they had included right-angle triangles for more diverse building shapes. Getting the shape you want for a circular base can be complicated. Additionally, there are very few options for decorating your base without mods, which is frustrating after spending hours building it up only to have it look empty.

Taming dinosaurs is a significant aspect of the Ark Ascended game. You won't run out of dinosaurs to tame as they are abundant in the game. There are two ways to tame them; some are passive tames, while others require you to knock them out with tranq arrows and put food in their inventory space. You need to watch their torpidity as it drops while taming. For the best taming effectiveness, feed them their preferred food. For example, if you want to tame Argentavis, provide them prime meat instead of standard meat. It will tame them more quickly and give you a better levelled Argentavis. If you want the best dinosaur, consider making kibble, which takes more effort but can be worth it. Don't feed herbivores meat or vice versa, as they won't eat it. Taming will take up a LOT of your time, especially on official servers, and when I say a lot, I mean some dinosaurs can take hours. The higher the dinosaur level, the more food, narcotics and time it will need to tame.

Various kinds of dinosaurs serve different purposes in the game. Some are excellent for gathering resources, such as Castoriods for gathering wood and Doedicurus for picking stones. Others like the Rex, Giganotosaurus, and Allosaurus are great for fighting. Lastly, some dinos are best for transportation, such as the Argentavis. In addition to their specific uses, some dinosaurs have special abilities. For instance, Pachyrhinosaurus use pheromones to manipulate their targets and can either calm hostile creatures or induce rage. On the other hand, Chalicotherium can be used as a living catapult, which is useful when playing on a PVP server. There are different dinosaurs with unique abilities that you can discover while playing.

You can not only tame dinosaurs in the game but also breed them. Based on the official server, the maximum level for wild dinosaurs is 150 before taming. However, you can get higher levels and better stats by breeding the maxed dinosaurs. Breeding can get technical and in-depth if you want the best possible dinosaurs. One of the exciting things about breeding is that you can also get mutations, which can either affect their stats or get a new colour mutation. If you are persistent, you can get some real funky coloured dinosaurs through it. But just like taming, breeding takes time, and it takes even longer. Babies need consistent attention as they eat up a lot of food and will starve to death quickly.

As you explore the world of Ark, you will come across notes that reveal the story behind the game. Your goal is to become strong enough to defeat each map's bosses and final boss, but this won't be easy. You won't uncover the entire story on just one map, so you'll need to explore and build on each one to understand it fully. Each new map takes a few months to be released, but the good news is that unlike in Ark Evolved, you won't have to pay extra for the new instalments of Ark Ascended. Everyone will be able to enjoy all the maps! One of the best things about Ark is that you get to choose what you want to do. There's no set direction you have to follow.

(Photo- My Tribes base.)

Pros and Cons

Starting with Pros:

  • Visually stunning.
  • Creative freedom when building.
  • Hours of fun.
  • Using mods on all platforms is a great addition and adds more content to the game.
  • Many Dinosaurs to tame.
  • A great game to play with a group of friends.

Now for Cons:

  • The game crashes even on a high-spec PC.
  • If the base is too big, you will experience lagging when walking through it.
  • On official PVE servers, everywhere is Pillard, which ruins the gaming experience.
  • As a new player, learning the game can be overwhelming as there is no tutorial.
  • The game can be time-consuming.
  • The text chat is broken.

(Photo- Comparison of two players.)

My Overall Opinion

I've been playing Ark since the first early access release of Ark Evolved, and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It's great to see how it has evolved and the vast improvements made to the new addition of Ark Ascended. 

I have some complaints about the game Ark. My friends and I had to rent an unofficial server because trolls ruined the official PVE servers. These trolls built pillars everywhere, which caused several issues. It became impossible to build anywhere, affected the spawning of dinosaurs, and stopped resources from spawning. In my opinion, Ark should adopt a feature from Atlas, which the same company makes. In Atlas, you have to put down a base marker, and you can only build within that area. This feature would limit the number of structures that players can put down within the map. I believe this issue doesn't happen on official PVP servers, but I could be wrong.

My experience with the game was not great, even though I had a high-performance PC. The game struggled to run smoothly and I faced at least two crashes every day. Additionally, I experienced lag issues quite frequently, not only when exploring but also when I had built up my base. These issues were not limited to PC; my friends who played on Xbox series S/X also faced similar problems.

Lastly, if you want to communicate through the server's text chat, forget about it. All you will end up with is "*****". It wouldn't let me write a friend's name even when writing on signs. Instead, I had to get creative with my writing, such as "Ian" being "In", and my Argentavis that I wanted to call Onion had to be typed as "oNion". Not only is the text broken within the game. If you are in an Xbox party, you will experience the crackling of voices when playing the game. 

If you have limited time to spend playing the game, I recommend avoiding official servers. Building, taming, and breeding can be very time-consuming in these servers. Instead, you can play on a single-player mode, where you can adjust the settings to make these tasks less time-consuming. Alternatively, you can join an unofficial server that has increased the speed of these tasks if you want to play with others.

Despite the issues, I believe that the benefits of playing the game outweigh the negatives. It is a very complex game that offers a lot of depth. The graphics are stunning, although sometimes fog and long grass can be problematic. Fortunately, you can fix this by using console commands even on official servers. The user interface is much sleeker compared to the previous game, Evolved. If you have played Evolved, you will notice the improvements and changes in Ascended, which are undoubtedly for the better. There are hours of fun to be had, and playing with friends makes it even more enjoyable. Even some of the bugs can be amusing like my husband sleeping on the ground but moving around on my screen, but on his screen, he was walking around like you normally would. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved over time, and there is so much more to come in Ark Ascended. Therefore, I give it my stamp of... 


Why did the Tyrannosaurus Rex cross the road?
Because the chickens hadn’t evolved yet.

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